A few days ago, I posted a review on Wolfgang Puck Express’ Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf, and mentioned that I ordered it to go. Not only was it packaged looking almost as nice as if it were being served in the restaurant, it arrived from the kitchen in approximately five minutes. Kudos to WPE! On the same day of my visit to Downtown Disney, I also stopped by Cookes of Dublin in Pleasure Island to give their Chicken Wings in Whiskey and Crushed Pepper Glaze a try. Matt & I had visited Cookes late last year to try a few of their items and the overall experience wasn’t fantastic, but neither of us were deterred from revisiting.
Since that visit, the Whiskey and Crushed Pepper Glaze I was so looking forward to has changed into Sweet & Spicy Chicken Wings, which are tossed in a Honey, Chili Flake Soy, & Ginger Sauce. The price remained steady at $9.95.
When I arrived, there were two separate guests in front of me placing orders. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the space, but to give you an idea of the small ordering area, another couple walking in behind me just made it in the door. The doors to this restaurant remain open, so despite the small dining area being air conditioned, it remains pretty hot. Despite being third in line, I waited a good 15 minutes to place my order. After I ordered my wings to go and paid, I was told it would be about 14 minutes for the wings to cook. *Sigh…* (Yes, I’m aware wings take longer than most “fast” items to cook…)
When the order arrived, I could feel it was pretty hefty. “Awesome,” I thought. “At least it feels like there are a decent amount of wings in here!” I walked back to my truck to sample one and opened up to this. Six wings served atop chips with some plasticware thrown on top. *Womp… womp… wooooooomp…* Now I believe the Whiskey version was served with chips, but the old menu didn’t indicate that they were. The most recent menu, shown towards the bottom of this post, does mention for its category “All served with chips.” I didn’t notice this until after reviewing my photos.
To be fair, the wings were meaty. Most of the fat had rendered out. Although there were some pockets of fat, hey, they’re wings. The sauce was fine, but it didn’t really do it for me. There really wasn’t a balance of sweet or spicy; there was some sweetness, a negligible bit of heat here at there, but pretty tame overall. Fortunately, the skin wasn’t soggy, but I like a crisp skin on wings that can hold up to a sauce. On a scale of 1 (Inedible, like a Turkey Leg) to 10 (Fortune smiles upon thee! Thou hast found heavenly chicken wings!), these rate about a 5.
As in my previous experience, the chips were once again unimpressive. There was hardly any crispness, and they just kind of collapsed on themselves. They’re also tend to retain grease and don’t have much salt on them.
Here’s a look at the menu on August 12th:
As well as the kids menu:
Because I got these to go so that Matt could try some at home, I heated them up along with the aforementioned Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf. The wings fared very well in the oven, with the skin crisping up and caramelizing, providing that snap to the skin I was looking for. The sauce also tightened up a bit, concentrating the flavors and making the sweetness of the honey and the bite of the ginger a bit more noticeable. Still, any heat remained in the background. The grease in the chips rendered down a bit, leaving behind a crispy shell with soft potato in the center.
Some final thoughts: Some things haven’t changed since I last visited Cookes of Dublin. My primary concerns are with both the initial service (ordering) and the time to receive the order. My first visit took at least 5 minutes to even be acknowledged despite guests dining in the restaurant and there being nobody ahead of me in line. My second visit took an exorbitant amount of time (15+ minutes) to even place an order with just two guests ahead of me. Once it was my turn to order, I asked for the wings to go, had my card ready to pay, signed my receipt and moved aside. It still took about 3 minutes for the entire transaction.
Once I ordered, I stood off to the side to wait and a group of three got in line behind the two guests that had been behind me. My wings would take around 14 minutes, and the trio was just ordering when I received my order. The line had grown about four people deep out the door at that point, in the hot, humid August sun. I know the food takes time as it’s made to order, but to wait this long just to order is a bit absurd.
I know this is sounding like a negative review, but there are some good points (and I think the reason I’m being so wordy is that I really want Cookes to improve!). The wings were decent, and while the fresh fries were bleh, both reheated well in the oven for some tasty leftovers. I recall their onion rings doing the same despite their pool of grease below them when fresh. And despite the long wait times I’ve experiences to simply order, I still want to go back again to try some more of their menu.
So thank you if you didn’t say, ” TL;DR” or at least skimmed the article to get the gist. I’d really love to hear how your experiences at Cookes have been, whether similar to mine or more streamlined. Which items are worth the wait? Let us know!